Hidden in the far northeast of Portugal, Miranda do Douro is the most charming village on a hilltop in the bend of the famous Douro River. The town is right on the border with Spain and has been isolated in this remote corner of Portugal, creating the opportunity to develop its own culture and even language. We visited Mirando do Douro during our road trip around Portugal in the fall and loved seeing this picturesque town and beautiful landscape in autumn colors. In this blog, we’ll share the best tips for your visit to this white village!
A whitewashed village on the Douro
At the exact place where the Douro river crosses the Spanish border and enters Portugal, you can enter Portugal as well by driving your car across the river dam. And that is where you’ll enter Miranda do Douro as well. Perched on a hilltop on the bend of the river, the quaint whitewashed town has been an important defensive point for Portugal for centuries because of its strategic position.
In this remote corner of the country, the town had a somewhat isolated location, so it has developed for over centuries without any Portugese influence. This resulted in a unique local culture with its own traditional costume and folk dances and even its own language, Mirandese. You can learn more about the local culture in the local museum of Miranda, but you can already catch a glimpse of it as you walk past the statues in traditional costume in the central village square.
You can still find the remnants of Mirada do Douro’s strategic role when visiting the town: there is an old castle ruin at the edge of the village that you can visit for free. At the ruin is a spacious parking lot, where you can leave your (rental) car to explore the rest of the town on foot. Stroll through the white streets, visit one of the many churches and admire the old Roman viaduct.
Especially the cathedral from the sixteenth century is worth a visit, although during our visit it was unfortunately closed and only open in the afternoons. As a result, we had to miss the somewhat strange statue of Jesus in a hat. Research some pictures online to see what we mean.
Looking for a place to spend the night in Miranda do Douro? There is a campsite on the edge of town, although we can’t really recommend staying there during the low season unless you like freezing cold showers. Highly recommended hotel options in Miranda are Pensao Vista Belac overlooking the river or the countryside farm Casas Campo Cimo da Quinta just outside the village.
Start your mini road trip along the Douro here
The Douro River is one of the most famous places to visit in Portugal, but tourists usually don’t travel all the way to Miranda do Douro and the Douro landscapes in this part of the country. The wine region east of Porto is definitely as stunning as all Portugal guide books tell you, but we recommend you to explore the Douro river near the Spanish border as well.
You won’t find any vineyards and port tastings in this area, but the Douro has created the most stunning landscapes near the Spanish border as well. The Douro carved out a large gorge, creating the Spanish-Portuguese border. There are spectacular viewpoints all along the river gorge, both on the Spanish and the Portuguese side.
Miranda do Douro is the perfect starting point for a mini road trip in Portugal. Follow the Douro for a day and visit ancient villages and the most beautiful viewpoints in the east of the country. Until you reach the area around Pinhão, where those famous Alto Douro vineyards are located. Hit the road again for a second day following the Douro until you reach Porto, or stay in the Pinhão area for a few days to enjoy one of the many vineyards in the region. Besides wine and port tastings, many of them also offer camping spots or B&B rooms to make your Douro experience even more perfect.
Tip: if you don’t want to get a rental car and driving is not really your thing, book a river cruise along the river starting in Miranda do Douro and experience the unique Douro landscape from the water.